MacDoctor on benefit budgeting


John Key was castigated in the left wing blogosphere for suggesting that the increase in people needing food parcels was due to issues of budgeting. It seems he was right. Not that the Herald would actually use the MacDoctor’s headline – they prefer:

Mum refused food aid under tough new rules

And then they launch into a long story about a solo mum with fibromyalgia and three children (7, 13 and 17) who has had to escape an abusive relationship. So far so good – that is what the DPB was intended for (although I would have thought she would have been on the sickness benefit, rather than the DPB). The story gets lurid with the nasty National government refusing to provide this poor lady with food aid.

Only in paragraph ten do we learn that this woman is receiving $827.50 a week in various forms of government largesse. It is not until the end of the article that we learn that she has had  four aid packages in the past six months and that she refuses to attend any budget meetings with WINZ.

I note the rent for the property is $385 a week. The article does not say whether or not she has applied for a state house. Maybe she doesn’t want to move, but if she did move into a state house then the rent would be well under $200 a week.

The power bill is $65 a week. At 25c/unit, that is 37 units a day which seems pretty high.

Also worth noting that while her expenses are currently $31/week higher than her income, $83 a week is repayments and fines. So if they had been avoided, then there would be a surplus of $52 a week.

None of this is suggesting that life isn’t challenging bringing up three kids on $830 a week. I am sure it is. But the facts show that the level of taxpayer support is already very significant, and that there are cost savings which can be made.

UPDATE: The Herald today reports:

However, a Glenfield solo mother of three children who was refused a $106 food grant on Wednesday was given the money late on Thursday after the Herald reported on her case.

Work and Income head Mike Smith said the mother, “Maree”, was not refused a grant – “she walked out of the meeting before a decision could be made”.

“Last year Maree received 13 hardship payments. She owes us $1400 for money we’ve advanced her,” he said.

“She is clearly having trouble managing her finances. We want to help her with that, rather than continuing to service the symptoms of the problem with hardship grants.”

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